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What should you do if vaccines come up as holiday dinner topic? Mental health therapist shares his advice

A licensed mental health therapist gives advice on how to handle difficult situations surrounding asking people if they are vaccinated or not, for the holidays.

DES MOINES, Iowa — What is your vaccination status? 

It's a question hosts might ask potential guests who are coming to Thanksgiving dinner. 

The question is one that can cause conflict, but licensed mental health therapist and CEO of Aspire Counseling Center Kenneth Cameron says it doesn't always have to.  

When approaching the subject, make sure to address the topic with respect.

He said this can look like asking your potential guest a question like: "Hey, the Holidays are coming up. What are we all doing?"

Cameron noted once a person has eased into the conversation, it is important to next clearly outline the values you want to get across without being divisive. 

"Don't go into it ... being divided," Cameron said. "Shot versus not being vaccinated, but what we want to do is make sure that [you're] hitting home that we want everyone to be safe."

CDC holiday guidance is similar to what it has been throughout the year, urging people not to travel or gather without first being fully vaccinated. And for people traveling with kids under 12, who are not yet eligible for a vaccine, the agency offers even more specialized guidance that can be reviewed on their website

If in-person holiday gatherings happen, while it is recommended that they be moved outdoors, the CDC also recommends this year to consider using a window fan to increase ventilation inside. This will pull fresh air from the other windows as well. 

RELATED: Are you vaccinated? Some families face fraught Thanksgiving divide over jabs

RELATED: Reports: Pfizer to seek vaccine booster authorization for all US adults

Cameron added if you get an answer from a potential guest saying they are not vaccinated, still try to include them in your plans. Think of a solution that involves them in the holiday dinner, like video chatting with the person while you eat. 

"Do this just so no one feels left out," Cameron said. "And it is also, a way for those who are vaccinated and for those who are unvaccinated, [to] still be able to come together."

Cameron noted with Thanksgiving being only a few weeks away, it's better to have this conversation sooner than later, so no one is caught off guard about any change that could arise.

TEGNA's Douglas Jones contributed to this report.

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